Introduction this purana contains six parts.
First part: describes the creation of the universe, birth of the gods and the demons, pralaya, churning of the sea, tales of the devotee dhruva; killing of hiranyakashipu etc.
Second part: contains the description of priyavrata’s sons and bharat dynasty. It also has a geographical description of jambu dweep, bharat varsh, shatdweep, patal (the hades), the sun and the planets, chariot of the sun, origin of the ganges etc.
Third part: contains a detailed description of manavantaras, kalpa, veda vyasa, religion and the caste system etc. It also has a description of the origin of buddhism.
Fourth part: origin of brahmanand daksha etc. Birth of pururava, marriage of balarama with revati. Birth of ikshavaku. Kukutstha dynasty. Tale of yuvanashva and saubhari. Sarpvinasha mantra. A narayana dynasty, birth of sagar. Ashwamedha by sagar. Descendence of the ganges through the penance of bhagirath. Birth of lord rama. Yagya of vishwamitra, birth of sita, tales of chandra dynasty. Abduction of tara, origin of agnitrayo, birth of dhanvantri and his clan. Wars with the demons, clan of nahush, tale of yayati, yadu dynasty. Birth of kartveerya arjun. Tales of krishna’s birth, marriage of krishna with jambvanti and satyabhama. Salvation of shishupaal. Over population of yaduvanshis. Birth of karna and his find him by adhirath. Janamejaya dynasty and origin of bharat. Clans of jahnu and pandu. Clan of parikshit and royal dynasties of the future. Future generation of ikshvaku dynasty. Future generation of brihad dynasty. Future generations of pradyot dynasty. Kingdom of nand. Advent of kali yuga and description of royal dynasties of kali yuga.
Fifth part: marriage of vasudev and devaki. Incarnation of lord vishnu to kill kansa. Arrival of yagmaya in yashoda womb and of the lord in devaki’s womb. Birth of lord krishna, carrying of krishna to gokul, dialogue of mahamaya with kansa, acquiring of defensive stance by kansa. Releasing of vasudeva and devaki. Killing of putana. Killing of shakat. Naming of krishna and balarama. Humiliation of kaliya. Killing of dhenukasura, killing of pralamb, description of festival devoted to indra, worshipping of govardhana, arrival of indra, killing of arishtakasura. Arrival of narad in kansa’s court. Killing of keshi, arrival of akrur in vrindavana. Arrival of lord krishna in mathura. Lord krishna’s mercy on kubja. Arrival of lord krishna in amphi-theatre and killing of kansa. Coronation of ugrasena, bringing of sudharma in mathura, defeat of jarasandha, birth of kalayavan, killing of kalayavan. Vrindavan tour by balarama, getting of varuni by balarama. Abduction of rukmani, abduction of pradyumna, getting of pradyumna by mayavati, killing of shambar by pradyumna, killing of rukmi by balarama, getting of sixteen thousand queens by lord krishna. Abduction of parijat. Fight with indra. Begging for pardon by indra. Migration to dwarka, bow battle. Telling of dream by usha, abduction of aniruddha, fight with lord shiva, amputation of bana by lord krishna, killing of kashiraj paundraka. Putting of varanasi on flames. Abduction of lakshmana. Presentation of samb before the sages as an expecting mother. Origin of pestle. Destruction of yadu vansha. Ascendence of lord krishna to heaven, beginning of kali yuga, preaching of arjun by vyasa. Coronation of parikshit.
Sixth part: description of religion in kali yuga. Description of the importance of kali yuga, shudra and women folk by vyasa. Description of kalpa. Description of a day of brahma. Position of brahma in pralaya. Natural disasters. Different kinds of sorrows. Torturing in hell. Awakening of brahma, preaching of yoga. Tale of keshidhwaja. Killing of the religion and the cow. Holding of counsel by khandikya. Self knoweldge. Ridicules of body-spiritualism. Querries of yoga. Brahmagyana (vedas). Concepts of tangible-intangible appearances of god. Salvation of khandikya and keshidhwaja. Excellence of vishnu purana. Virtues of lord vishnu’s names. Results of hearing lord’s name.
Start of part one
Introduction and origin of the universe from basic elements sage parashar, the exponent of vishnu puraan had narrated this grand treatise to maitreya. Sage suta inherited it from maitreya. The text presented here is a narration by suta. Suta says- one day, maitreya greeted sage parashar and said- "gurudev, you have studied all the scriptures. I wish to hear the tale of universe’s origin from you. How will be the ages that are about to come? What is the reason for this whole creation? Who created it? Where did it exist? Whom did it mingle with? And with whom it will annihilate eventually? Apart from these, i also wish to hear about the expansion of fathomless sky, origin of ocean and mountains, origin of earth, expansion of the sun, division of time in four ages, pralay, religion, sages, kings, creation of vedas by vedavyasa, origin of four classes in our society and system of four ashrams in one’s life." parashar says: "maitreya, you have reminded me today of the description once made by my grandfather vashishta. When i learnt that the monster, which was created by vishwamitra, had devoured my father, i grew quite angry and started a yagya to destroy all the monsters. The yagya destroyed such a large number of monsters that the whole race began to face the fear of extinction. My grandfather consoled me that too much anger was not good and that all the monsters could not be blamed for my father’s death. According to my grandfather my father was sure to face such a fate ultimately. Only the fools get angry. A human being bears the fruit of his deeds himself. O son! Anger destroys all the virtues of penance. Hence, ascetics always shun anger. Hence, stop this yagya for forgiving has always been the virtue of ascetics." thus, convinced by my grandfather, i stopped the yagya. At the same time, brahma’s son, pulastya, arrived there and said- "despite your anger, you forgave the monsters when convinced by your grandfather vashishta. You will learn all the scriptures and give commentaries on puraans. You will also learn the real appearance of the gods". Vashishta also endorsed these words of pulastya. "o maitreya! Now i narrate to you, the whole contents of puraan. This whole universe has originated from lord vishnu. It is existing within him and will annihilate in him eventually." parashar says: "the trinity of brahma, vishnu and mahesh is also known as the creator, the preserver and the destroyer. All of them salve the devotees. All of them have equal importance. Still, preserver who fosters and protects all the living beings is far more significant. I salute to him and narrate the tale that was once narrated by brahma to all the dakshas. Dakshas had narrated this tale to the king purukutsa at the bank of the river narmada. In turn, purukutsa narrated this tale to saraswat who narrated it to me." "o brahmin! Lord is eternal and endless. Hence, origin of universe, its existence and annihilation are also unending processes. During the period of pralay, the nature exists in a state of equilibrium. It is during this period that purush (masculine forces of creation) separates from prakriti (feminine forces of creation) and kaalroop of vishnu (eternal, unending form of the lord) is manifested. Lord vishnu is beyond all the bonding of life like birth, growth, intelligence, senses, decay and death. Purush is the first appearance of lord vishnu. Prakriti is the manifestation of his action while kaalroop is his supreme appearance." during the pralay, there was neither day nor night, neither earth nor sky and neither darkness nor light. At the subsidence of pralay, with his desire, the lord entered the purush who is beyond all bonding. His entry stimulated the process of creation. First of all, a single great element originated encompassing all the other lesser elements. From this great element originated three egos- sattvic, rajas and taamas. Taamas created sky with sound as the main virtue. The sky then created the sense of touch. Touch produced air. Hence, touch is the main feature of air; no one can see air but only have an experience of it through touch. Air created roop, which gave birth to fire with roop as its main virtue. Fire gave birth to taste. Taste produced waters with taste as its main property. From water originated scent, which produced earth with scent as the main feature. These senses have no special expression. The ego rajas produced ten sense organs whereas the ruling deities of these organs were produced by sattvic ego. Thus, the ten deities who rule ten sense organs and the eleventh entity mind are sattvic in nature. Skin, eyes, ears, nose and tongue- these five organs aid the mind in its function. O maitreya! Anus, sex organs, hands, legs and speech organs are the five organs that help in action. Works like excretion, reproduction, movement and speech are carried out with the help of these five organs. All the five elements like sky, air, fire, water and earth are full of emotions. Hence, they are also known to have a special significance. All these elements have different and distinct powers. Without their combination, creation of the universe was impossible. In the beginning, all these elements were present in the great ball or egg, which came into existence because of the inspiration of the lord. As this ball increased in size, it formed the base as prakriti in which, lord vishnu himself entered as hiranyagarbh. When the universe comes into existence, lord vishnu fosters it till the end of kalpa. At the end of kalpa, lord vishnu himself devours the entire physical elements in rudra appearance. During that time, he inundates the entire universe and himself sleeps on shesha in ksheersagar. When he awakes once again, he begins the process of creation in the appearance of brahma.
Chapter two birth of brahma and salvation of earth by varaha
At the end of the previous kalpa, when brahma awakened from his long slumber, he saw all the worlds devoid of everything. With a desire to salve the earth from the depth of unfathomable inundation, he took the appearance of varaha. Entering the water, he reached paataaloka. Seeing him, the earth prayed him with respect. Hearing her prayers, the lord roared with frightening sound. Then, he supported the earth on his great incisors and came out from the abysmal depth. When he was rising, his breath produced big sprays of water, which drenched sinless sages while the force of his breath frightened common creatures. When the lord emerged from the water, all the sages prayed him with reverence and respect. Very soon, the lord installed the earth at a position far above the unending stretches of water. Then, lord carved out the topographical features on earth and divided it into many divisions and created all the four worlds. Then lord vishnu in the guise of brahma carried out the process of creation. As soon as brahma thought of creation, tamoguni (full of darkness) creatures were the first to appear. Absence of knowledge and presence of evils like attachment, anger etc. Were the main virtues of these creatures. These creatures include lower organisms, trees, shrubs, creepers, plants and grasses. These together constitute the primitive world. Their creation was followed by the appearance of animals and birds, which are devoid of wisdom and are full of ego. They are also unaware of the nature of another organism of their status. Still unsatisfied with his creation, lord created the next world, which has a somewhat elevated position. The living beings that were produced in this world had internal and external knowledge, power of reflection and loved physical comforts. Though this creation pleased the lord, he was still unsatisfied. So he created the next world, which was situated at a somewhat lower position. This new world had excess of all the three virtues. Human beings populate this world and because of excess of vices, they are full of sorrow but at the same time, highly active, have internal and external knowledge and are able to attain their goals. The first few creations had resulted from the thoughts of the lord. For the creation of the gods, the demons, pitraganas, human beings and water, the lord decided to use his body. Thus, the demons were the first to emerge from his thighs. The lord then shed his dark body, which formed the night. Then from his mouth, the lord produced the gods who had sattvic virtues. The lord then shed his sattvic body as well from which the day came into being. It is also the reason why the gods acquire more strength in day and the demons are stronger during nights. Then the lord acquired yet another body and behaved like pitraganas to produce pitraganas before shedding that body too, which gave rise to the dusk- the twilight between the day and the night. Thereafter, the lord acquired a new body with rajas virtue from which the human beings were produced. When the lord shed that rajas body it formed dawn- the twilight between the night and the day. It also explains why the human beings are stronger at dawn and pitraganas at dusk. Then the lord assumed yet another body with rajas virtues and produced desire from it. The desire gave birth to lust. Staying in the darkness then, the lord created the world, which is full of desire and lust. In that world, many ugly looking human beings, who had long beard and moustache appeared and ran towards him. Among those who said, ‘protect him’ came to be known as raakshas (demons) and those who said, ‘we will eat him’ came to be known as yakshas. Then the angry lord produced aggressive carnivores. Thereafter, the singing lord produced gandharvas. Thus, by turns, the lord produced birds, sheep, goat, cow, horse, elephant, donkey, deer, camel, and pony from his age, chest, mouth, belly and feet respectively. From the innumerable body hair of the lord, fruits, flowers and herbs were produced. From his east-facing head, lord produced gayatri mantra, rigveda, and yagyas. From his south-facing head, he produced yajurveda. From west-facing head, he produced samaveda and from his north-facing head, he produced atharvaveda.
divisions of earth and origin of cereals
With the desire of creating the world, brahma produced different kinds of human beings from his different organs. Thus, from his mouth, brahmins appeared. Kshatriyas appeared from his chest, vaishyas from his thighs and from his feet, shudras appeared. Thus, physical body is the greatest means for human beings in order to achieve his goals. With time, the human beings lost their divine virtues and perfections. Jealousy, sorrow, decay and infighting began to rise among the people. In order to earn their livelihood and run their life peacefully, the human beings developed agriculture and other handicrafts. "o sage! Paddy, barley, wheat, lesser cereals, sesame, millet, rice, peas, pulses, beans, rye, gram and hemp are common agricultural produce that have edible as well as medicinal values in the villages. These and other produce are also used as oblations in the yagyas because all of them have produced as a result of yagyas. Performing yagyas daily is the most virtuous exercise that every human being should undertake. This destroys the sins committed by common people."
birth of prajapatis and their progeny
At one point, the process of creation got saturated and no increase took place in the number of living beings. Then, with a desire of continuing the creation, lord created nine sages from his thought. Then he produced nine daughters and handed them over as the wives to those nine sages. When initially produced sons of brahma took to asceticism, he got very much infuriated. His anger was enough to burn all the three worlds. From this anger, rudra originated who was shining like the sun. Rudra had appeared in half-masculine and half-feminine form. Immediately after his appearance, rudra separated his body into eleven male parts and eleven female parts. Then swayambhu manu appeared from the body of brahma. He agreed to follow brahma’s dictate of continuing creation. He got a woman shatrupa who had also appeared along with him. Together they begot two sons, priyavrata and utaanpaad and two daughters, prasooti and aakooti. These two daughters were married to daksha and prajapati respectively. Prajapati and aakooti gave birth to twins, yagya and dakshina. Yagya and dakshina got married and produced twelve sons who later on came to be known as yaam, the gods. Daksha and prasooti produced twenty-four daughters, thirteen of which were married to dharma. The remaining eleven daughters were married to bhrigu, shiva, marichi, angira, pulastya, pulaha, kratu, atri, vashishta, agni and pitars. From his thirteen wives, dharma produced kama, darpa, niyam, santosh, lobha, shrut, dand, naya, vinay, bodh, vyavasaay, kshema, sukh and yash. Kama got married to rati and produced harsh. Darpa married hinsa and produced a son anrit and a daughter nikriti. Anrit and nikriti got married and produced bhaya and narak and their wives maya and vedana. Maya produced mrityu, the destroyer of all the creatures in the world. Vedana produced a son, dukh. Mrityu produced vyadhi, jara, shok, trishna and krodh. These are all the fierce appearances of lord vishnu and cause pralay. The omnipresent eternal god creates this world in the form of manus, protects it and ultimately destroys it. There are four kinds of pralay- naimittik, prakritik, aatyantik and nitya. Among them, naimittik is brahma pralay during which god takes a nap. During prakritik pralay, the universe annihilates in nature. Annihilation of yogi in the supreme being is aatyantik pralay and a decay of physical elements that continues day and night is nitya pralay.
creation of rudra and omnipresence of lakshmi
In the beginning of kalpa when brahma was thinking about a son, who would be like him in virtues, a boy with reddish-blue body appeared in his lap. Brahma addressed the boy with names like rudra, bhava, shiv, ibhaan, pashupati, bheema, ugra and mahadev. Brahma also fixed surya, water, earth, air, fire, sky, dikshit (graduate scholar) brahmin and the moon his abode. Since then, all these things idolise shiv. These eleven idols of shiv have wives like suvarchala, usha, vikeshi, apara, shiva, swaha, disha and rohini. Shanaishchar, shukra, lohitaang, manojav, skand, sarg, santaan and buddh are the sons of these idols respectively. Rudra himself got sati, the daughter of daksha prajapati as his wife. Sati had committed self-immolation because of the disrespect that her father had shown for her husband. In her next birth, she had appeared as parvati, the daughter of himalaya and maina. Parvati too got married to shiv. Khyaati got married to bhrigu and gave birth to two sons dhata and vidhaata and a daughter lakshmi. Lakshmi then married lord vishnu. Maitreya says - "o sage! It is heard that lakshmi was produced from ksheersagar during the churning of the sea but you say that lakshmi was the daughter of bhrigu and khyaati. How is it possible?" parashar says- "o great brahmin! Lakshmi who never separates from the lord is herself eternal like him. But still, as you have expressed your doubt, i will narrate you the real story." the famous short-tempered sage durvaasa is a partial incarnation of shankar. One day, he was wandering on the earth when all of a sudden, he happened to see an extremely divine beauty. She was wearing a garland of beautiful flowers. The sage requested the beauty to give him that garland. She presented the garland respectfully to the sage. The sage adorned the garland on his head and began to wander again. Right at that moment, he saw indra riding on airaavat and going somewhere in the procession of the gods. Instinctively, sage durvaasa put that garland around the neck of indra but indra removed it and put it on airaavat’s head. Airaavat pulled the garland with his trunk and smashed it on the ground. This whole sequence of events infuriated durvaasa who cursed indra. "o indra! You are so inebriated with your luxuries that you dared to insult my humble gift. Hence, all your splendour shall be destroyed. You will lose all your wealth." indra at once descended from the elephant and began to request sage durvaasa. Durvaasa said- "indra! Forgiveness has no place in my personality. So, all your repenting is meaningless." saying this, sage durvaasa departed from the scene and indra to left for amravati. Very soon, the curse began to show its influence. With the loss of indra’s luxuries, all the verdancy on the earth too began to wane. Hermits too began to give up yagyas. All the human beings began to be guided by greed and gave up pious virtues. And at a place where pious virtues have no room, lakshmi too doesn’t stay there. She made her abode in the abysmal depth of the sea. Very soon, the demons launched an attack on the gods and drove them out of heaven. Indra along with other gods approached brahma and told him the whole thing. Brahma suggested them to take refuge at lord vishnu. He assured them also that lord vishnu would definitely protect them. Brahma even accompanied the gods to lord vishnu. There, they together prayed lord vishnu and intimated him about their ordeal. Pleased by their prayers, lord vishnu appeared before them and said- "i will definitely help you regain your splendour. Presently, do what i say. You reconcile with the demons and convince them to carry out the churning of the sea. Then bring all kinds of herbs and put them in the sea. With the help of the demons and using mandaraachal as churner and vaasuki, the naag as the rope to carry out the churning of the sea. Thus, you will recover ambrosia drinking which, all of you will become immortal and regain your strength." following the advice of lord vishnu, the gods reconciled with the demons and convinced them to carry out the churning of the sea. They together procured all kinds of herbs and put them in the sea. Then they began the churning using mandaraachal mountain. As soon as the churning began, mandaraachal began to sink. Lord vishnu took incarnation of kachchhap (the great tortoise) and bore the weight of the mighty mountain on his back. During the churning, kamadhenu, the wishful cow was the first to emerge. It was presented to the sages as an aid for their yagyas. It was followed by the damsel, vaaruni, kalpavriksha (the wishful tree) after which, beautiful elves appeared. The moon followed the elves and was taken up by shiva on his forehead. During the churning, huge quantity of poison had also emerged. It was drunk by lord shiva and some parts of it were taken up by the serpents. In the end, dhanvantari himself emerged from the sea carrying the urn of ambrosia. It was during the churning itself that lakshmi appeared once again from the sea holding lotuses in her hands. All the sages prayed her. Then taking bath with divine water, goddess lakshmi took her seat in the heart of lord vishnu. When the demons saw that lakshmi had chosen lord vishnu’s heart as her abode, they got perplexed. They at once snatched the urn from dhanvantari and ran away. Then a row broke out among them over the drinking of ambrosia. Each of the demons wanted to drink ambrosia in maximum quantity. Meanwhile, lord vishnu also arrived there in the guise of an extremely pretty woman mohini and took possession of the urn. Mohini had pleased the demons with her sweet smile while distributing ambrosia among the gods. Thus, the gods came to drink ambrosia. When at last, the demons realised that they had been cheated they immediately attacked the gods. But since the gods had regained their strength, they soon defeated the demons without much ado. Afterwards, the gods prayed lord vishnu and returned to heaven to rule it. The world also regained its verdancy. After regaining his splendour, comforts and luxuries of the heaven, indra prayed goddess lakshmi with devotion and respect. Pleased by the prayers of indra, lakshmi asked him to seek a boon. Indra said- "o goddess! If you are pleased with me, kindly bless me with a boon that first you will never desert this world and also that you will never desert those who worship you with this prayer." lakshmi granted these boons. Thus, lakshmi had appeared as the daughter of bhrigu and his wife khyaati. Then second time, she emerged from beneath the sea during its churning. Thus, whenever lord vishnu takes an incarnation, lakshmi accompanies him. When god appears in divine form, she too takes a divine appearance. When god appears in human form, lakshmi appears in human form also.